Linking to videos without embedding them

Lots of readers are pasting the URLs of videos into the comments, which embeds the entire video. While that’s occasionally okay, it eats up space available for this website, and there’s a limit to that.  I’d like to suggest, then, that if you want to refer readers to a video, you use a URL shortener, which will get readers to a video without embedding it in a comment.

Here’s how it works, courtesy of reader Ben goren.

First, get the URL of the YouTube video.

Then go to a URL shortener program; a good one is here.

Follow the directions, which simply involve pasting the URL into a box and then entering some letters in another box to show you’re a human.

Example: here’s a YouTube debate between Sam Harris and Reza Aslan. The URL, which will embed the video, is

The URL shortener converts that to:

That won’t embed a video in the comments, but it gives you (unlike other methods) a click-able link that takes you straight to the video.




  1. Posted August 5, 2013 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    See, this provides a clickable link but doesn’t embed the video:

    • jesperbothpedersen1
      Posted August 5, 2013 at 9:16 am | Permalink

      Roger roger, got it. bookmarked.

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted August 5, 2013 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      Perhaps I might suggest that commenters also include a brief description of what’s being linked to, rather than simply dropping in, without explanation, a cryptic link that could lead anywhere.

      • Diane G.
        Posted August 6, 2013 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

        Hear, hear!

    • jeremyp
      Posted August 7, 2013 at 8:29 am | Permalink

      Here’s a video that explains the dangers of clicking through a shortened URL and why I never do it.

  2. GeorgeG
    Posted August 5, 2013 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Would links also do the job?

    Posting for testing purposes:

    • jeremyp
      Posted August 5, 2013 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      Try pasting the url without the http:// on the front.

      • jeremyp
        Posted August 5, 2013 at 9:39 am | Permalink

        So, there I put www dot youtube dot com slash watch?v=gKjcvZoxT9Q and the software put the http:// on the front and made it a link.

        • Posted August 5, 2013 at 10:04 am | Permalink

          Good find! But I wouldn’t be surprised to find that change with a future WordPress revision. On the other hand, I’d be most surprised to see them resolve shortened URLs.


    • Diane G.
      Posted August 6, 2013 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, that’s the “trick” I use. I haven’t tried it with Amazon, but I suppose it might also work to prevent book pictures from embedding.

  3. GeorgeG
    Posted August 5, 2013 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Gah, apparently not

    • Posted August 5, 2013 at 9:31 am | Permalink

      I actually had the same thought, with similar results.

      Still, YouTube’s URL shortener can be very useful in other circumstances, and it’s very easy to create the short links.


  4. merilee
    Posted August 5, 2013 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Not to be a pedant, but it’s spelled capici, or capice, depending on if you want to be formal or not;-))

    • Frank
      Posted August 5, 2013 at 11:15 am | Permalink

      In both words, you forgot the necessary ‘s’ between the ‘i’ and the second ‘c’. … Not to be a pedant.

      • religionenslaves
        Posted August 6, 2013 at 12:51 am | Permalink

        Not to be a pedant, but “capisce” does not make sense, being the third person singular of the present tense of the verb “capire”, thereby making the implied question very formal. “Capisci”, second person singular, conforms with the informal, jocular, nature of the query.

        • Alektorophile
          Posted August 6, 2013 at 7:25 am | Permalink

          Indeed. Ah, the joys and horrors of Italian words and expressions mangled by English speakers (yes, yes, it’s pretty bad the other way around, too). Surely Hollywood and its caricature of Italian-American mobsters is partly to blame? “Capisce” (usually pronounced wrong, this being Italian the “e” at the end is not silent) always puzzled me. “Expresso” and others are lazy errors. “Bravo” at classical concerts even when the performer is female or more than one is just silly. “Arugula” is just plain weird (its proper name in Italian being “rucola”, I wonder if somehow a Southern Italian pronunciation of “la rucola” is at the origin of the weird English name for that particular salad). And where did “pepperoni” for sausage ever come from?

          Italian food restaurant menus in the US are sometimes unintentionally funny. I fondly remember one in NY advertising “Pene alla Vodka”, i.e. “Vodka-flavoured penis”. I am sure English speakers feel the same way about the way their language is abused around the world.

          • Posted August 6, 2013 at 8:56 am | Permalink

            The search term you’re looking for is, “engrish.”



            • teacupoftheapocalypse
              Posted August 6, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

              Personnellement, je prefer franglais, especiallment après un few bières. 🙂

          • Gregory Kusnick
            Posted August 6, 2013 at 9:18 am | Permalink

            “Bravo” at classical concerts even when the performer is female or more than one is just silly.

            I’m going to have to disagree. English speakers who say “bravo” are not attempting to speak Italian; they’re using the English word “bravo” that has been imported from Italian. Since English is not a gender-inflected language, it makes sense that this import word has lost its inflection. English speakers who say “Bravo!” to a female performer are using the word correctly within the grammar of their language (however wrong it may sound to Italians).

            A similar case could be made for “expresso” and “arugula”. These are English words derived from, but not identical to, their Italian cognates. Adaptive mutation is to be expected in such circumstances.

            • merilee
              Posted August 6, 2013 at 10:45 am | Permalink

              What bugs me is when North Americans say Parmijohn for Parmesan, which is neither fish nor fowl, (Parmigiano nor Parmesan) as it were.

        • John Scanlon, FCD
          Posted August 6, 2013 at 10:29 am | Permalink

          I don’t think the word entered English from Florentine Hochitalienisch, but from one of the southern dialects which go in for elision in a big way.

          I realised how far this process had gone while listening in on conversation on the train from Roma to Brins (=Brindisi, = Brundisium), en route to Greece.

          • merilee
            Posted August 6, 2013 at 10:39 am | Permalink

            I realize that I had left out the s in capisci ( capeeshee – capice would be capichay, more or less – the original post had capiche, which would be pronounced capikay in italiano)…but it is interesting how Italian and German are opposites in how they pronounce these combinations of letters.

            Merilee (the Norwegian-American who doesn’t know Norwegian but does know some Italian and German (and French))

  5. Chet
    Posted August 5, 2013 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    It “eats up space?” What? No, embeds happen on the client side; your site doesn’t store anything but a little scrap of HTML.

    • Posted August 5, 2013 at 9:28 am | Permalink

      I think by “taking space” he means taking up visual space on the site, not taking up computer resources.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted August 5, 2013 at 10:33 am | Permalink

        Huh! That interpretation wouldn’t have hit me, since web pages are scrollable for that very reason.

        So we have to undo WP functionality (drop the http:\\ declaration is enough IIRC) because people don’t like generic web functionality?

        How idiosyncratic. Are you sure this is not a “bleurgh”? =D

      • Chet
        Posted August 5, 2013 at 11:31 am | Permalink

        Who cares if it takes up something there’s an infinite amount of?

        • Gregory Kusnick
          Posted August 5, 2013 at 11:51 am | Permalink

          The amount of visual space on my phone screen is far from infinite. However the amount of scrolling I have to do approaches infinity as the number of embedded videos increases.

          • Chet
            Posted August 5, 2013 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

            Oh, well, obviously all the rest of us should change our behavior rather than inconvenience you!

            • Gregory Kusnick
              Posted August 5, 2013 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

              No, if you change your behavior, it should be because our host has politely asked you to, and it’s his house, so he gets to make the rules.

              Presumably he’s made this particular rule out of consideration for users like me, but that needn’t be a factor in your decision to honor his request or to flout it.

    • Posted August 5, 2013 at 9:30 am | Permalink

      It eats up column inches, which is space in the real world, and very precious to newspapers. It’s not quite as rare and expensive a commodity in the online world, but it’s still an important consideration for the audience if not the bookkeepers.


      • Scote
        Posted August 5, 2013 at 9:33 am | Permalink

        Comments are “below the fold”, so I don’t find the column inches argument to be a direct analog. No newsprint or hosting costs are involved.

        • Posted August 5, 2013 at 10:04 am | Permalink

          The comments are as much a part of what people come here to read as the original posts. If every other comment was an embedded video, unless it was something such as “Post your favorite ____ video,” I and many others would find it rather annoying.

          There are times when an embedded video is appropriate. But not many.


          • JBlilie
            Posted August 5, 2013 at 10:34 am | Permalink

            +1, well said Ben.

        • Gregory Kusnick
          Posted August 5, 2013 at 11:13 am | Permalink

          Column inches matter to those of us who sometimes read the site on our phones. An excess of embedded video makes pages slower to load over mobile networks, and harder to navigate by touchscreen.

    • Scote
      Posted August 5, 2013 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      Indeed. And “embedded” video is actually a pass through,the actual video is hosted and played back directly from the YouTube servers. It does not pass through It has zero impact on hosting. The video doesn’t go through the WordPress servers nor is it stored on them.

      IIRC, the WP software has a setting to turn off auto embedding if you find it aesthetically/editorially annoying. Not sure if that ability is also available from a instance of WP.

      • Scote
        Posted August 5, 2013 at 10:05 am | Permalink

        Doh! It turns out that WP did have the ability to turn off auto embedding but they have *removed* it in current releases :-p

  6. teacupoftheapocalypse
    Posted August 5, 2013 at 9:53 am | Permalink


    Sounds like an offer we can’t refuse. 🙂

    • JBlilie
      Posted August 5, 2013 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      We canna refuze!

    • Frank
      Posted August 5, 2013 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      Of course, it’s really “Capisci?” Or, “Capisce?” (formal) Or, “Hai capito?”

      In Italian, the non-word “capiche” would be pronounced “cah-pee-KAY” because the silent ‘h’ makes the ‘c’ a hard ‘c’.

  7. JScarry
    Posted August 5, 2013 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    One argument for not embedding is that if you are viewing the comments on your phone, the text takes less bandwidth than the still image of the video. However, the image for the embedded video above is only 12k, so you’d have to have a lot of videos on a page to make a difference.

  8. RFW
    Posted August 5, 2013 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Why not just quote the Youtube video identifier, the last part of plain vanilla YT video URLs?


    Instead of

    just post 8-1F-CokXNU

    • Posted August 5, 2013 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      Nobody’s going to recognize that as a YouTube identifier unless you tell them, and few will know what to do with it if you do.


  9. Notagod
    Posted August 5, 2013 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    I think this is easier so I’ll include it for reference:

    <a href=”put URL here”>your home brewed link description</a>

    The quotes around the URL are required.

  10. Ralph Pickering
    Posted August 5, 2013 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    I’ve been following this site for some time, and occasionally these New Rules (cue sudden mental image of Bill Maher) get posted, so I’d be aware of them – but someone new to the site won’t have a clue.

    It might be an idea to set up a FAQ / Rules page which, with WordPress, could be as simple as tagging all the relevant posts with a category (Rules) and having a navigation item in the menus that points to that category page. WordPress will then generate the page dynamically with all the relevant posts.

    Just a thought…

    • HaggisForBrains
      Posted August 6, 2013 at 12:55 am | Permalink

      Makes sense to me.

  11. Posted August 5, 2013 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    This should work:

    If it didn’t, ignore the following. If it did, then you can paste the URL between <code> tags, to stop it being converted:



    • bric
      Posted August 6, 2013 at 1:25 am | Permalink

      That’s the most elegant solution, and sadly I now remember that I once knew that.

  12. imil42
    Posted August 5, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, but isn’t it more reasonable to turn the autoembedding off than to expect all users to remember all these rules?

    I’m not familiar with wordpress, but judging by this article: and this function reference: , the issue would be fixed by adding the line

    to the page template, or maybe to the common header.

    • imil42
      Posted August 5, 2013 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

      Oh, naturally the line was removed as malicious code. Let me try again:
      <?php wp_oembed_remove_provider( ‘HTTP_www_DOT_youtube_DOT_com_SLASH_*’ ); ?>

    • Posted August 5, 2013 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

      Unfortunately, wordpress-dot-com and wordpress-dot-org are very different animals. I’m not sure that even the paid-for versions of dot-com allow that much user-customisation.

  13. HotJam
    Posted August 5, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Use Chrome

    Make sure it’s not on a Mac

    Use Pig Tools

    Why? Well, besides the fact that PT lets you control your browser with gestures (right-click and draw symbols for back, forward, close tab and everything else you do), it has an awesome (and configurable)context menu.

    So you can get a short URL with a rightclick – or with Alt-F2 – << this page.

    And more…, much much more…

    You're welcome.

  14. Nate
    Posted August 5, 2013 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

    Apparently I am banned from posting at this site (either that or my last two posts were rejected). It’s kinda sad considering I haven’t habitually violated any rules (maybe once or twice with a YouTube video).

    • Nate
      Posted August 5, 2013 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

      Must be my other email address (the one I just posted from is saved on my desktop; the email I believe is banned on my laptop). I say this because the 1 or 2 times a year I post it says “comment awaiting approval from moderation.” I save the link and check a day or two later to see if my comment got posted – and nothing.

  15. krzysztof1
    Posted August 5, 2013 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    Good advice! Will do.

  16. drew
    Posted August 6, 2013 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    I usually don’t trust shortened links. I don’t like clicking a link that I’m not sure where it’s going to take me.

    the solution is nice though.

    • drew
      Posted August 6, 2013 at 11:17 am | Permalink

      heh it didn’t show up. the solution I was referring to was the html “code” solution shared by Daz

      • Posted August 7, 2013 at 2:05 am | Permalink


        To display tags: &lt; produces < and &gt; produces >.

  17. Posted August 7, 2013 at 6:02 am | Permalink

    I want to embed my 1600-page unpublished history dissertation…

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